Maize is a cereal crop and it is one of the most widely distributed food crops in the world. Maize which is also known as corn is a crop which produces grains that can be used as food to human beings and also livestock. The crop was first domesticated by the indigenous people in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago.
Asides being used as food for human beings and livestock, maize can be used for other things such as biofuel and raw material in several industries.
How to Start Maize Farming In Nigeria
Research has it that over 800 million tonnes of maize are produced each year in the world with Africa accounting for only 6.5% (52,000,000) of that figure. Nigeria tops in Africa with a total production of 8,000,000 million tonnes per year, so that means the market is still open for aspiring farmers to boost our nation’s production of maize.
Climatic and Soil Requirements
Maize grows well under a temperature of 26C-30 C with rainfall of between 75cm – 150cm per annum and in a well-drained sandy loamy soil of pH 6-7. In Nigeria, maize can grow in almost every part of the country but the major producing States are Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Jigawa, Gombe, Taraba, Plateau, Sokoto, Kebbi, Nassarawa, FCT, Niger, and Zamfara.
Benefits of Maize Farming in Nigeria
· Increased food to combat food insecurity
· Improved income
· It can be used for animal feeds
· Raw materials for industries. Buyers include Nestle, Kellogg and Nigerian Breweries
Prepare the land by clearing the bushes in the land with a cutlass, making heaps or ridges manually with a hoe or mechanically by ploughing, harrowing and ridging.
Choose from Varieties/Cultivars
Choose from varieties or cultivars. The varieties/cultivars of maize include; dent maize, flint corn, popcorn and sweet corn.
Planting of Maize
The Maize seed can be planted manually using a stick or cutlass, or mechanically using a planter. Early maize is planted between March/April while late Maize is planted between July/August. However planting maize either early or late also depends on the location and rainfall.
The quantity of seed needed to plant on a hectare of land is 25kg-30kg, two to three seeds are also recommended per hole. Although the quantity of the seeds used depends on spacing or plant population.
For spacing 90cm by 30cm at one seed per hole or 75cm by 25cm at two seeds per hole is recommended. Planting can be done manually using cutlass or mechanically using planters. Dig 2-4cm deep and put two or three seeds per hole. After four to seven days germination should begin to occur.
Other Practices for a Healthy Maize Farm
· Replanting of seeds to replace the seeds that did not germinate
· Removal of weak plants from a stand to give rise to one or two vigorous crop plants.
· Apply NPK 15:15:15 (200kg/Ha, four bags) at planting, also apply 250kg (5 bags) or 150kg (3 bags) of urea per hectare, five to six weeks after planting. Farmland manure, droppings from the poultry/organic manure can also be applied.
· Weeding; this is done three to four times at regular intervals. It can be done manually using a hoe or chemically by the use of specified herbicides.
· Control of pests and diseases; it can be done anytime at regular intervals or by preventing it completely using appropriate chemicals.
Harvesting and Storage
Maize which is also known as corn can be harvested by hand, sickle or corn picker by a combined harvester. Maize matures 90-120 days after planting and is harvested by plucking the cobs or using machines. The crop can be stored in a fireplace, cribs or silos.